What is the perfect funeral in 2023?
For some of us, thinking about our funerals is too scary to comprehend. Yet, funeral planning is becoming a common thing, with thousands of people out there who already have their funerals planned out, regardless of their age or current health.
We surveyed around 1,800 members of the UK public to learn more about the type of funeral they would like and compiled this data to reveal the UK's perfect funeral in 2023.
The Most Wanted Funeral Styles
Modest and respectable funerals
According to our data, the most popular funeral type people would opt for is a modest and respectable funeral - simple and traditional, potentially with a smaller number of guests. Since our first survey in 2017, this option has remained the most popular up until 2023, seeing a 29% rise in popularity over the years.
Fun and Vibrant funerals
Fun and vibrant funerals were the second most popular choice according to our survey - think less traditional with bright colours, truly celebrating life. However, we can see from our data that this style has dropped in popularity by 29% since 2017, with just 21% of people opting for a fun and vibrant funeral in 2023.
A grand send-off
While grand send-offs and extravagant funerals are often seen for public figures, only 21% of the general public would choose this style for themselves. It’s apparent from our past survey results that this style of funeral has never been Brits’ main choice.
In 2021, due to the pandemic rules causing funerals to be limited to a small number of people, this type of funeral massively dipped in popularity, with just 12% of respondents opting for a grand send-off in 2021. Now the world is somewhat back to normal, more extravagant funerals are on the rise, with a 71% increase in popularity since 2021.
The sought-after services
Non-religious vs religious funerals
A non-religious service has been the stand-out choice for the past five years, and its popularity has continued to grow, with 25% more people opting for this option since 2017.
Religious services remain the second most popular option, despite just 17% of people opting for this service in 2023 - a 37% decrease since 2017. These results support data from ONS stating that around 22.2 million people in the UK aren’t religious.
The least desired service was a spiritual one, with just 12% of Brits choosing this option.
How Brits would like their final disposition to be
Cremation vs Burial
Almost three-quarters of the 2023 respondents would prefer to be cremated (71%) than buried. Cremation has remained the most popular choice for quite some years, with the majority of the public choosing this every year since 2017.
While cremation is the number one choice, almost a quarter of the public would prefer to be buried. However, burial is slowly dropping in popularity, with a 23% decline since 2017.
Favourite funeral service locations
Unsurprisingly, a crematorium has remained the most wanted place to hold a funeral service since 2017. This location has seen a climb in popularity over the past six years (21%), however, since 2022 there has been a 10% drop.
Churches were the second most popular locations for funerals, with more than 20% of respondents opting for this choice each year since 2017.
Woodland burial grounds are the least popular option chosen, however this location has seen bursts of popularity over the years and it will be interesting to see where the trend heads next.
An open invitation
Despite modest funerals being the most common type of funeral in the past few years, 60% of people claimed they would want anyone who knows them to attend their funeral.
The option of an open-invitation funeral has continued to grow in popularity, showing that many Brits want people to come together to commemorate their passing.
A small group of respondents only wanted to invite family, while the second most popular answer was friends and family.
Funeral Service Leaders
A personalised funeral is preferred
More than half of Brits would opt for a celebrant to lead their funeral service. Celebrants conduct personalised weddings, namings, and of course, funeral services. According to our data, this option has hugely grown in popularity, with a 92% increase in the past six years.
Despite religious funerals not being as popular, many Brits still opted for a vicar to run their funeral service (28%). However, similar to religious services, this choice has seen an 19% popularity decrease since 2017.
Alternatively, a family member or close friend could conduct the funeral service, which only 9% of people selected as an option in 2023.
Charity Donations at Funerals
When asked if they would like people to give charity donations at their funerals, 67% of 2023 respondents said yes. However, this option has seen an 11.3% decrease in the past year, whereas the number of respondents who opted for ‘no’ has increased by 34% since 2022.
Overall, judging by Funeral Guide’s data, the perfect funeral for the British public would be:
A modest, non-religious funeral service led by a celebrant at a crematorium, with everybody who knew the deceased able to attend and donate to a charity in their name.
Ed Gallois, CEO of Funeral Guide, commented:
“Funeral Guide’s wide-ranging survey demonstrates how funerals can and do change over time. The restrictions caused by the pandemic appear to have started a movement towards smaller, more modest funerals, which could also have been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. One of the biggest changes at funeral services in the past seven years that the survey has revealed is the rise of the celebrant. They have rocketed in popularity at funeral services since 2017 and I would expect that trend to continue as Britain becomes increasingly secular.”